Australia may proscribe Hezbollah a terrorist group in its entirety

February 18, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton may consider Hezbollah should be considered a terrorist group.

Peter Dutton

The Australian has reported that ‘New Zealand has proscribed the group’s military wing, while Australia has listed only the wing’s External Security Organisation as a terrorist group’.

But J-Wire understands that there is no named entity as ‘military wing’ and that the External Security Organisation encompasses the popular name as ‘the military wing’.

Some of Australia’s partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States have declared Hezbollah a terrorist group.

New Zealand joins Australia as proscribing only Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation as being a terrorist group.

“The matter of listing Hezbollah’s military wing remains under active review,” a spokesman for the Department of Affairs told The Australian.

But Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Peter Wertheim said the group as a whole should be proscribed.

“By listing only Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation as a terrorist organisation, rather than Hezbollah as a whole, Australia has been endorsing a ­fiction,” he said.

“Hezbollah leaders themselves have openly and ­repeatedly declared that no substantive separation exists ­between its different wings.

“The organisation from its inception has glorified, promoted and carried out acts of terrorism.”

The Australian revealed on Monday that a bid to have a Sydney man declared a “high-risk terrorist offender” failed as the groups he was accused of supporting — Hezbollah and one of its allies, the Amal party — were not declared terror organisations.

This came after the Department of Home Affairs told the committee, while it was reviewing the listing, that “any broadening of the listing … would have implications, including for our bilateral relationship with Lebanon”.

The US listed Hezbollah as a terrorist group in 1997 with Canada doing likewise in 2002.

Dr David Adler, president of the conservative advocacy organisation Australian Jewish Association, added: “The Government’s splitting of hairs on the status of Hezbollah has created an absurd distinction without a difference that has put the Australian people at risk. We call upon Prime Minister Morrison and Minister Peter Dutton to rectify this.”

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council’s executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein told J-Wire: “We now have a situation where a potentially violent terrorist supporter from Sydney cannot be closely monitored because successive Australian governments have failed to ban all of Hezbollah, only its ‘External Security Organisation’ –  despite advice from a key parliamentary committee to change this situation in 2018.

Australia is at odds with all of the other members of the ‘five eyes’ intelligence-sharing community (the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia) in its approach to Hezbollah, and the situation of the Sydney man only underscores how profoundly inimical to Australia’s security interests this is. For Aust­ralia to protect itself against Hezbollah’s vast terrorist and criminal activities, it needs to urgently follow the lead of our democratic allies and proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety.”

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